Priorities updated on quoll research
A workshop examining research priorities for the Pilbara’s endangered northern quoll was held by the Department of Parks and Wildlife last week.
The northern quoll workshop was attended by more than 60 participants from Commonwealth and State environmental regulators, resource companies, environmental consultants, academics and researchers and environmental non-government organisations.
DPaW assistant director of science Stephen van Leeuwen said participants reviewed and updated the Pilbara Northern quoll Research Plan, developed in 2013.
“This meeting will build on two previous workshops and focus on what we have learnt over the previous three years and in what direction this research will now head,” he said.
The northern quoll’s numbers across northern Australia have declined in the past 50 years and the species is now restricted to five regional populations in Queensland, the Northern Territory and WA.
There are few male northern quolls left in the population, as most undergo immune system collapse after a competitive breeding season, with females left to raise the next generation of young.
Dr van Leeuwen said key threats to the northern quoll included introduced predators such as feral cats and foxes, cane toads and habitat loss or fragmentation caused by bushfires and land clearing associated with resource development.
“Previously we have identified five priority research areas for the northern quoll in the Pilbara, so the workshop will provide an opportunity to review our research efforts and outcomes, as well as identify new or emerging issues which may impact on the species and require some level of investigation,” he said.
“The workshop also seeks to consider novel and innovative approaches to understanding northern quoll ecology and to managing the threats impacting on this animal.
“The department is conducting a 10-year monitoring program of Pilbara northern quolls, which includes collecting ecological, genetic and habitat data, and identifying important quoll habitat from regional surveys to understand where current and future management efforts should be directed.”